As the majority of data in modern enterprises is produced outside the data center, the ability to access, collaborate, share, and protect file-based data relies on the ability to store it at the edge. And as a recent article from SearchStorage points out, edge computing devices today are creating massive amounts of files and data that can drive significant cost increases when they are communicated or transferred to the cloud or data center.
Indeed, the concept of edge to cloud computing is one of the top trends in the IT industry for 2018 according to Gartner. And how organizations can bridge unstructured edge data with the cloud for distribution, analytics, and other digital management is a key focus for many of our customers.
In my view there are three common mistakes made by enterprise organizations today with edge storage strategies.
Investing too much manpower. IT departments everywhere are spending huge amount of efforts on managing edge storage. When employees get a new laptop, the IT guy needs to transfer their data from the old to the new. When a small branch office server fails, the IT person needs to drive to a remote location, spend days on restoring the data from a backup and getting everything running again. That’s expensive, inefficient and scales poorly. Relying solely on edge storage is truly “living on the edge,” and not in a positive way – it’s a big mistake.
Investing too much IT spend. This applies to file services use cases specifically, as advances in AI and machine learning are certainly requiring increasing amounts of edge storage. But for our customers today the most common use case is the ability to provide them with a solution for remote offices and remote branches distributed around the world. The use case often combines the ability to store the data at the edge with a centralized management platform in the cloud.
Not thinking through the potential challenges. Think of a video surveillance system – it may seem obvious that you want surveillance footage to live in cloud storage and not in the edge. This is due to the physical security of the cloud, along with inherent redundancy, infinite elasticity and very low cost storage tiers which are suitable for long term archival – a perfect match. However, in practice this choice has its problems – would you be able to keep footage recording during an Internet service interruption? And do you need to be able to quickly retrieve videos locally from the archive ? Those limitations mean that edge storage remains as important as ever.
And so for many of our enterprise customers the solution has been a hybrid solution that combines the benefits of edge storage and the cloud storage, and this is where “Edge to Cloud” comes to play.
The key technology needed in order to achieve cloud and edge synergy is edge caching – often in the form of edge gateways. These gateways are amazing since they suck up all the files from your old servers– including those pesky security ACLs and shares you spent so much time setting up – and push everything to your cloud, while exposing the same experience as a traditional network share.
And add a layer of smart local caching, which makes everything feel as fast and responsive as before. These caching devices – which are today available in hardware or software form – also allow you to continue creating files locally during an Internet service interruption; and to continue editing frequently used files.
Since your data now lives in the cloud, but is accessible at local speeds from anywhere across the globe, new cross-site collaboration opportunities emerge that were not possible before. Suddenly you also have all that previously “dark” data right at your fingertips – in your own private cloud– in a searchable, analyzable and shareable repository. Data is the new gold, and “Edge to Cloud” allows you to tap into all your data, from everywhere. And that has some real impact on your business. If you’re an enterprise CIO and not doing it today, you should be seriously looking into implementing an “edge to cloud” paradigm in your enterprise.
Drop us a line if we can help you get started.